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CWSL Professors Reflect on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Retirement

Justice Anthony Kennedy

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, first nominated to the high court by President Reagan and confirmed in 1988, will retire as associate justice effective July 31.

In recent op-eds published in The San Diego Union-Tribune Professors Glenn Smith and James Cooper reflect on the significance of that decision and how the justice’s departure could vitally affect the Court and the country for years to come.

“It’s not just that Kennedy regularly became the fabled “swing vote” determining the outcome and influencing the reasoning when his eight colleagues were evenly split (often on liberal/conservative lines),” writes Prof. Smith. “More important is what Kennedy’s role as the most “gettable” justice for both sides shows about how Kennedy approached legal issues and why the particular kind of balance he brought to the court is so crucial to its role in our constitutional democracy.”

Prof. Cooper highlighted Justice Kennedy’s legacy of international engagement by remembering his thoughtful and measured approach to the world. “Justice Kennedy,” writes Prof. Cooper, “provided perhaps what is the most important guidance on the role that international legal principles should play in U.S. case law. With the United States in seeming full retreat from its trade relationships, traditional alliances and role it has played in the maintenance of international peace and security since the end of World War Two, Justice Kennedy’s jurisprudence is all the more prescient.”

Read the articles here: